Scene In Passing: nvictus, reconciliation coexist for change |

Scene In Passing: nvictus, reconciliation coexist for change

John Barrette

“Invictus” is the name of a poem that inspired Nelson Mandela and the film depicting a South African moment of victory during Mandela’s presidency there.

If you haven’t seen the film, it’s worth your time. It’s not just another sports movie. Sports are the backdrop to a sociological, political and governmental period in which transition triumphed and helped a national community come together. And if you haven’t had a chance to read the Victorian-era poem of the same name, let me treat you to the oft-quoted last verse:

“It matters not how strait the gate / How charged with punishments the scroll. / I am the master of my fate; / I am the captain of my soul.”

Invictus means unconquered and, in death as well as life, that’s Mandela. Yet he conquered through reconciliation. So let’s add small thanks for messages he provided upon release from 27 years of imprisonment, and later upon assuming the South African presidency.

First, he told the world he was no saint, unless you count a sinner who keeps trying. As president, his message of reconciliation wasn’t just magnanimous, it was brilliant. Thus he built community.

South Africa’s 1995 rugby triumph on the world stage captured by the movie “Invictus,” and Mandela’s hand in it, were only icing on a seemingly impossible cake to bake.

Carson City, though merely a microcosm to any nation’s macrocosm, requires similar community-building via small strides.

Last Sunday, a Scene In Passing column noted Supervisor Karen Abowd’s appointment of Ande Engleman to a utility cost oversight watchdog committee. The column accurately said they don’t share restaurant preferences but inaccurately reported they are always on the same page politically. They aren’t. Aren’t is the word that should have appeared, but the overriding point is both of them care for Carson City.

Such are the vagaries of print journalism. My apologies went to both, which they graciously received even though neither had complained. Apology aside, the point is important. Community takes people with convictions finding common ground without jettisoning said convictions.

Carlos Santana, the Bay Area musician who just received Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement in the performing arts, captured the “Invictus” attitude when asked about Mandela.

Santana, who knew the late South African leader, called him a supreme warrior of elegance and conviction who taught victory in life already is won. Such conviction must surely be rooted in faith regarding humanity.